Linda Hurtley

Office: 651-462-4645

Cell: 651-248-4687

Linwood Group Meetings -LA County Museum of Art, Urban Light

Resources: Attendee Engagement

Ideas for Attendee Engagement

Linda Hurtley

Note: Many points in this list are excerpt from Where the Action Is: the Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization by J. Elise Keith, available on

Advise attendees that you value their time and expertise. Thank them for joining the meeting.

Start with good news. Think of this as a non-cheesy icebreaker. Go around the room and ask each person to share some good news – either business or personal.

Challenge yourselves to solve problems. Meetings are boring if they are focused on status updates. Working on a problem is a way more interesting and productive use of your meeting time. Keep high engagement by tying your daily work to the results of your strategic planning session.

Stay focused. Start and end the meeting on time. Stay focused on the agenda and don’t let attendees go down rabbit holes and on long tangents.

Use a Parking Lot to capture ideas to go back to later. It’s a start on your next meeting agenda(s).

Include an outside/walking session. One of the breakout sessions could be for a limited number of participants in which everyone is included in a discussion on a specific topic during a walk around the property or down on the beach. You could crowdsource this discussion topic by asking the participants for a challenge they are working on and then the group decides which topic is discussed. Alternatively, each topic could be brainstormed/discussed for a specific length of time, say 10-15 minutes and that way everyone’s topic gets the benefit of the group.

Extend break times. At a conference that convenes on an annual basis, attendees may not have the chance to see their colleagues and friends throughout the year. By extending break times longer than just the time it takes to grab a coffee and get to the next breakout, you could extend another 15-20 minutes for attendees to network with each other.

Make it fun! Think about your group or your team. You can probably come up with a creative way to make the meeting more fun. Tell a joke, or a funny story. Include videos, polls, and/or quizzes.

Active Recognition. While using the slide deck to proceed through the meeting, have someone else take meeting notes directly onto the slide deck. (Be sure to leave room for this on each slide.) Attendees can see their ideas, comments, and accomplishments added in real time which is fun and will feel rewarding.

Use Icebreaker Questions, such as:
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
What has been most influential in your life so far?
What is your biggest accomplishment?
What do you like most about remote work?
What was your first concert?
What is your favorite animal and why?
If you want something faster than the open-ended ice breaker questions, try giving everyone an option to choose, such as in Would You Rather:
Ice Cream or Cake?
Beach or mountains?
Football or Hockey
Truck or motorcycle?
Spiderman or Superman?
On a pizza: Pineapple or Sauerkraut?
Two Truths and a Lie. Each person shares three things, and the group must guess which is the lie. For smaller groups, keep it conversational and just shout out guesses. For bigger crowds, put the answers on a slide or virtual whiteboard and have everyone annotate a dot with their guesses.

Bucket List. Ask everyone to share a couple things from their bucket list.

Essentials or Favorites. Ask each person to share the most essential app on their phone, a favorite book on their shelf, the best appliance in their kitchen, etc. Or ask everyone to share a favorite recipe or time saving hack.

Establish a safe environment by asking team members to leave titles and personal agendas behind so everyone feels comfortable contributing their ideas to the discussion. When there is no hierarchy, individuals have an opportunity to lean into and strengthen their problem-solving bond with each other. The team mentality that results will be much more productive.

Help the group define the purpose and goal of the meeting to understand what needs to be achieved and what tasks need to be accomplished.
Is there a problem to be solved?
Do ideas need to be brainstormed?
Are there any status updates?
Does a decision need to be made?
State the purpose beforehand, at the beginning, and regularly throughout the meeting to make sure everyone is staying on task, on track, and on time.

Include Wellness activities.
Morning stretch or hike
Breathing exercises
Quiet room
Doggie cuddle
Game room that includes coloring books, puzzles, and/or simple takeaway crafts.
Aromatherapy room
Build your own Essential Oil Blend
Five minute mental health breaks after each presentation.
One example is to ask attendees, before moving to the next session, to sit quietly in the room to ponder the session content and how they will use the content in their life or in their job.
Take a five minute meditation break.
An adult's attention span isn't much longer than a child's.   During a presentation, about every 15 minutes or so, stop to tell a joke or take advantage of one of the ideas listed here, and then go back to your presentation.  Participants will be more likely to retain the education.

Resources: Educational Blog

Contract Negotiations: How I Save Money for my Clients
Linda Hurtley

As a meeting and event planner, I review many contracts on behalf of my clients. The goal is to ensure the contract includes the key elements needed for a successful event in whatever scope and items the supplier is providing.

Know your client.    I need to understand the goals and objectives of my client and their event, to understand where a contract is not in the best interest of my client. What is most important to them and why? Is it date, rate, location, quality of venue or product, staffing expertise? When I have this information, I can ensure the contract reflects the client’s priorities.
  • I advise my clients to be willing to walk away from a supplier that is not willing to negotiate in good faith.
  • Don't release the competitors until after the contract is signed by both parties.
Comparison Shop. Using a Request for Proposals (RFP) process, seek multiple bids. In some cases, you won’t be comparing apples to apples, but the different rates and inclusions will provide valuable information when negotiating with the preferred vendor.

Equal and Fair. One of the primary considerations is to ensure the contract is not one-sided, which is often the case whether it’s a hotel, AV company, or even an entertainment contract. I’ll redline the one-sided terms and replace them with language that makes the contract equal and fair for both parties.

 4. Extra and Hidden Fees. I scour the contract to ensure there are no undisclosed fees, service charges, or penalties that will affect the budget. If the contract states that the client will be liable for terms and fees that are outlined in another document, such as the Catering Menus, I’ll review that document before I recommend signing the contact. Redline extra and hidden fees in all documents, especially those that are referred to in the body of the contract.

 5. Stay Positive and Friendly, Build Rapport. I’ll never forget the hotel Sales Director who told our client, “They made me work harder for this piece of business than I ever have before.” The strong relationship we built with this Sales Director led to a willingness to negotiate and compromise on terms that were deal-breakers for us.

 6. Clear communication. If there are terms in the contract you don’t understand, be sure to ask for clarification. Throughout the negotiation process, ensure that both you and the supplier are very clear about language and intentions. Ensure clarity and detailed verbiage follows through in the written contract so there are no misunderstandings. 
  • Keep in mind that individuals who are not familiar with contracts may be responsible for interpreting and adhering to the contract.
 7. Review Regularly and as needed. As you are working through the event planning process, it may be necessary to review the contract(s) to ensure that terms are being followed by both parties, or to mitigate potential expenses due to attrition or other shortfalls.

 8. Seek Legal Counsel. If the supplier and I cannot come to terms, the next step is to seek legal counsel for both parties and let them hash it out. As I stated above, you need to be willing to walk away if you and the supplier cannot compromise on terms that are equal and fair to both parties.

What have you learned from contracts you have inherited or signed without having had a knowledgeable review? Start the conversation on Facebook at or on LinkedIn at .

Resources: Mental Wellness

Here are a couple of great tools I designed for one of my clients.

Mindfulness Calendar
Bingo Card

For more Mental Wellness information, please take a look at their website:

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